Hedging fruit and nut trees is nothing new, however in parts of the pecan industry hedging it’s not as common as in other tree crops.
Western pecan growers have been hedging for many years, and hedging is a very common practice amongst the growers in West Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. However when you start moving east across the southern pecan belt hedging is not nearly as common and is not practiced by many growers.
Hedging trees of any kind is usually done with a large machine with a large circular saw blade that reach high enough to cut the tops of the trees as well as the sides.
Hedging is done for a myriad of reasons some of which can improve yields, control growth of the tree as well as promote new growth in the trees. In pecan trees hedging is used to promote new growth, as well as control tree size.
New growth promotes new terminals for pecans, controlling tree size keeps orchards from becoming overcrowded, as well as allows growers better coverage of spray material with air blast sprayers.
Pecan trees have shown to respond well to hedging and orchards that maintain a regular hedging program are less susceptible to wind damage. When hurricane Michael came through Georgia growers with hedged orchards sustained far less damage from the High winds than growers with non-hedged orchards. Trees are kept smaller and tighter And catch less wind when compared to large trees that have not been hedged.
Growers using a hedging program also tend to yield more pecans per acre. Orchards that have not been hedged have a tendency to grow very large trees with lots of pecan wood and less pecans.
A recent survey asked pecan growers about their use of hedging in their orchards and results showed an uptick popularity industry wide. Some 75% of respondents indicated some sort of hedging program being utilized in their orchards. As growers become more aware of hedging and the benefits a good hedging program has on pecan orchards we expect to see this trend continue.